Action-filled Racing Insider with news from MotoGP; WSBK; ASBK; AMA SBK; BSB; Oz MX; AMA SX.
We’ll be making some slight changes over the next fortnight here at MotoOnline.com.au that will make the site much more efficient for both us and our visitors, essentially evolving the site from what we started with just two months ago when we launched.
While the first visual changes have not yet been completed, this week will mark the first week where Racing Insider will be completed only on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with a more complete news section making up the spaces in between – stay tuned.
As reported here on MotoOnline.com.au last week, news filtered in through the Press Releases section on the weekend that the MotoGP practice and qualifying would be extended to hour-long sessions again following the unpopular transition to 45 minute sessions this season.
Beginning at Le Mans we will see the sessions run at the full period of one hour like in previous years, which is great because the riders and teams have been far too rushed in the short 45 minute sessions.
It isn’t really the length that they are on the bike that is the problem, more so the amount of time they have to make changes during the session. Next year when (or if) they only have one bike at their disposal it will be very busy during those sessions.
But we still have to remember that this year the MotoGP category doesn’t have practice on Friday morning anymore, so even now with the one hour sessions they are still missing a full hour of track time compared to previous years.
The race at Jerez was an intriguing battle, and here’s our rundown on the event as it happened.
Defending MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi took his first victory of the season at the third round at Jerez, Spain, on Sunday, fighting back from the second row of the grid to take a dominant victory in the closing stages – showing the young guns who’s boss in an incredible display of racing.
The Italian eight-time world champion crushed his rivals in the end, eventually winning by 2.700 seconds, which also handed him the lead in the series point standings, but something tells me that Vale isn’t on his way to an easy world title victory just yet.
Local hero Dani Pedrosa led much of the Jerez race before falling back into the clutches of Rossi, but his two-race podium streak is something to admire following his severe injuries suffered in the off-season that required a skin graft on his knee and all.
Rounding out the podium was Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner, scoring his first ever rostrum finish at the Spanish circuit and delighted with the solid haul of points at what is his bogey track on the GP calendar.
One man who was devastated at Jerez was Motegi winner Jorge Lorenzo, who went into his home race leading the championship and then scored pole position, before fading in the race and eventually crashing out with just four laps remaining.
Lorenzo was challenging Stoner for third at the time, but his front-end crash caused enough damage to his YZR-M1 to force him out of the race.
The four championship favourites were once again the pace setters in Spain, and it seems that consistency will play a very major role this season because there is really no rider who stands out above the rest as far as actual speed goes.
Frenchman Randy de Puniet continued his good form for LCR Honda with fourth position, while Hayate Racing Team’s Marco Melandri stunned on the ex-factory Kawasaki to finish fifth.
Melandri defied the odds by beating out Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards and Andrea Dovizioso after an entertaining battle over the 27-lap duration, while Toni Elias and Queenslander Chris Vermeulen were the final finishers in the top 10.
Another Spaniard, Sete Gibernau, was the second of the Ducatis with an 11th place finish, with Team Scot Honda rookie Yuki Takahashi the best of the MotoGP rookies in 12th.
Final points finishers were James Toseland, Alex de Angelis and Stoner’s factory Ducati Marlboro teammate Nicky Hayden, who had a devastating weekend and only finished ahead of rookie Niccolo Canepa on the satellite Pramac Ducati.
Nicky’s confidence will be on its way down in a hurry following that race result, but it seems that he’s having trouble getting temperature into the rear tyre in order to really make a push in the beginning of the races.
Canepa’s teammate Mika Kallio didn’t continue his run of top 10 finishes in his debut season, retiring mid-race with rear brake problems on his Desmosedici.
The 250cc Grand Prix World Championship round at Jerez was another thrilling battle between Hiroshi Aoyama and Alvaro Bautista, with Aoyama getting the better of the Spanish favourite to claim victory and take over the series lead. Rounding out the podium was world champion Marco Simoncelli.
British rider Bradley Smith took his first victory of his career in the 125cc Grand Prix World Championship round at Jerez in Spain, dominating the race to lead from start to finish. Smith won ahead of Aspar Aprilia teammate Sergio Gadea, while young local Marc Marquez finished third.
Australian Josh Hook got off to a brilliant start in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup at Jerez, finishing fifth on debut in the opening race of the season before suffering a DNF in the second outing. Dylan Mavin finished with and 18th and a 12th for the weekend, while Arthur Sissis crashed out of both races.
Another thing that we touched on last week was the fact that the control engine supplier for the Moto2 class would be decided in Spain, and it has been revealed that Honda will be the official supplier of the Moto2 World Championship when the 600cc four-strokes are adopted next year.
Following speculation that Kawasaki, Yamaha and Aprilia were all in the running for the position, it was Honda that eventually won the bid and will supply the entire grid with engines in a deal that is expected to be run straight through Dorna Sports.
The 600cc machines will take the place of the 250GP two-strokes, although the FIM has confirmed that 250s will be able to compete against the 600s in 2010 in the all-new Moto2 class before they are phased out completely for 2011.
Much like when the four-stroke MotoGP bikes were introduced in 2002 alongside the now extinct 500cc two-strokes, it’s expected that the majority of the top current 250cc teams will compete with the four-strokes, and close racing is expected with all teams using the Honda engines.
But it is uncertain what teams will take part in the series that is designed to allow manufacturers to supply their own chassis, with non-Honda teams from other series not expected to develop feeder teams for the premier class.
Earlier there was Tech 3 Yamaha that said they were interested in fielding a Moto2 team as a development base for young riders, but it’s not likely that team boss Herve Poncheral would begin a Moto2 team now that they have to run Honda engines.
One team that is very interested in the series is the World Supersport Champion Ten Kate Honda team, with Ronald Ten Kate stating that he’ll be looking into the series more seriously later in the year.
With Ten Kate also expressing their interest in MotoGP a couple of years ago, what’s the bet that if they do run a Moto2 team they’ll eventually expand to a full blown MotoGP satellite team in the years to come.
Injured American John Hopkins has undergone surgery to his dislocated hip suffered at the Assen round of the Superbike World Championship, now looking towards his home round at Miller Motorsports Park on 29-31 May for his return to racing.
The former MotoGP rider will strive for that round, hoping to get back on the bike as soon as possible following an eventful year to date that saw him let go from the Kawasaki MotoGP team back in January when they left the series, before eventually securing a ride with Stiggy Honda in World SBK.
“I had an appointment scheduled with Dr. Ting on Monday morning to get a clear indication of the sustained injuries, and set a realistic plan for my recovery,” Hopper said. “I will now start my therapy in a couple of days and have set my goal on being ready to race again in the US round.”
It is expected that Hopkins’ replacement rider at this weekend’s Monza round of the series will be fellow American Jake Zemke, who shares the same managers as Hopkins.
One thing to take note of is that the upcoming Kyalami round of the series clashes with the AMA round at Infineon Raceway (Sears Point) and Zemke will have to be there for Erion Honda, so keep an ear out for possible replacements.
Australia’s six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin has taken his seventh victory of the season to remain perfect in the 2009 series to date, winning races six and seven at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama over the weekend.
Mladin has been simply unstoppable since current champion Ben Spies left for World Superbike this year, winning Saturday’s race over Ben Bostrom and Blake Young, before Sunday saw Mladin chased home by Aaron Yates and Bostrom.
Meanwhile, Young was involved in an early collision with Bostrom’s teammate Josh Hayes, transported for medical treatment in what is believed to be a hand injury.
Other Aussies in the race were David Anthony and Aaron Gobert, with Anthony finishing with 11-10 results, while Gobert scored 17-13 results on their privateer machines.
In the Daytona SportBike class it was Martin Cardenas who took the double, while Aussie Damian Cudlin was back on track with a solid showing of 12-8 results on a Yamaha YZF-R6.
The second round of the British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park won’t take place until Monday in the UK (tonight), but qualifying has seen the much anticipated debut of Josh Brookes on the HM Plant Honda alongside fellow Aussie Glen Richards.
Brookes qualified in 10th position after beginning the weekend way back in 24th after the first practice, learning the technical circuit relatively quickly in what was his first ride in a couple of months.
Meanwhile Richards is seventh on the grid for the races, while SMT Honda’s Jason O’Halloran is 11th alongside Brookes on row three and David Johnson will grid up on 19th position.
Check the Press Releases section for the full results and report from MotorSport Vision when they arrive following the races.
Australian Superbike Championship director Yarrive Konsky proved he still has what it takes behind the handlebars, finishing in the points at the Victorian titles on the weekend. But it wasn’t the road race titles he scored points in – it was the Motocross titles! Konsky, who also owns the Woodstock Honda factory Motocross and Supercross team, competed in the event for a bit of fun, going back to his grass roots as a motocrosser.
It wasn’t a great weekend for Konsky though as his Pro Open rider Ford Dale crashed at the Queensland Motocross titles and suffered a reported broken arm and maybe a leg. We’ll keep you up to date as more news comes to hand. It’s a great shame for Dale, who put in a brilliant performance at the Canberra round of the MX Nationals last month.
James Stewart is the new AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, title holder after defeating Aussie Chad Reed for the title at the Las Vegas finale on Saturday night.
In a race won by Ryan Villopoto, Reed finished second, but it wasn’t enough to beat Stewart in the points as he claimed his second Supercross championship. The title was also San Manuel Yamaha’s second title in succession after winning with Reed last year.
Villopoto scored his second victory in three races to cap off an up and down rookie season in the Supercross class, but the momentum he’ll carry into 2010 will be very strong come round one at Anaheim in January next year.
Reed put in a great showing against the man who is arguably the fastest Supercross rider of all time, but it was Stewart who eventually proved the victor and took home the sport’s premier trophy.
The passing manoeuvre that Reed put on Stewart in the race saw the pair come together at speed, forcing Stewart off the track via a trip through the tough blocks, but he held it together to regroup and do enough to take out the title by five points in the end.
The Lites class was a great event in Vegas and it was a battle of this year’s East/West regional champions in the main event, with East Coast champ Christophe Pourcel winning the race ahead of West Coast series winner Ryan Dungey. Rounding out the podium was Trey Canard, while Jake Moss was top Aussie in eighth.